Georgetown, SC

30 April 2015

Left Lealand Oil Marina about 8:15 on the high tide. It made getting into the river pretty easy.

About 20 minutes into the trip we were waked by a Hinkley Motor Yacht called Magic. We then heard boaters all up the ICW yelling at him. It reminded me of the Hinkley called Sapphire that waked us in Florida. Wonder if Hinkley only sells their boats to jerks? Or maybe just jerks in the south?

The rest of the trip was pretty easy. The high point was a pair of dolphins that were leaping out of the water in front of the boat. Not their normal leaps, but full body, tail out of the water jumps. Very, very cool.

During this leg we crossed the 5000 mile mark. I’m pretty excited by this milestone, we’ve come a long way. But it’s also sad, since it means our trip is coming to a close.

We got into our dock with a little bit of extra effort. Gas here was $2.47, our new loop average is $3.87, pretty good! I’ve been trying to go farther between fuel stops, but my average seems to be about 150 gallons, or 75 gallons a side. I’d guess if I’d really worked at it I could be averaging under $3.50, but since I was thinking $6 a gallon, I’m good.

We walked around downtown Georgetown for part of the afternoon. It’s one of the oldest three cities in South Carolina. Lots of old historic buildings, a very pretty downtown. We stopped a Gullah Museum to see what they Gullah were about. They were African slaves that after the Civil War had been granted islands in the south so they were able to keep lots of their original heritage alive.

Lunch was at Big Tuna, out on their rustic dock/porch area. Susan was all over the oyster po’boy, I went with the gumbo. Lots of flavor in both, at a pretty good cost.

Once back from touring down town Susan napped and I worked on the broken bilge pump. Turned out that it was a blown fuse. I put the same size in and it blew again, but the next size up worked. I’m going to guess that the starting current was on the edge for the fuse, giving it some extra to work with let me get it going. I do have a spare pump I can install if this one goes dead. (And more fuses)

We had docktails tonight with the crews of Seahorse, and Roundabout, both boats that we have run across a number of times in the past. New docktails were the crew of Field Trip, loopers from Michigan and the crew of Antares, they were part of the ICW mess leaving Charleston three days ago.

Dinner was at Wild Fish, a tiny little place downtown. Susan went for the “build it burger” and went all onionriffic with raw, fried and grilled onions. I focused on the “build it mac and cheese” going old school with shrimp and bacon. Both were very good. It’s a fun little place, highly recommended.

Back on the boat Susan waited for sunset and blew her conch horn to signify sunset. Not sure who else noticed since there is a steel mill 10 blocks away that had train cars hoot. But it was nice to here it again. She’s done it a few times since we left Tavernier, but she missed the band.

A great sunset tonight and the wind has stopped so it’s dead calm and you can realy see the reflections in the waves. Hope the pictures come out OK.


Rain Day in McClellanville,SC

29 April 2015

Rain delay! We are at the Lealand Oil Company Marina in McClellanville, SC and it’s been raining all morning and most of the day. We decided to hang here for the day and catch up on some odds and ends.

So we made some progress on projects, logging, pictures, naps, etc. Susan made some great food, her special egg salad for lunch and shrimp flavored garlic and asparagus for dinner.

We had lots of rain but during a break we hung out on the dock. There is a local dolphin called Jeremy that hangs out here in the marina. If you splash in the water he will come over to see you. Got some good shots of Jeremy and Susan.

We should be off to the north on Thursday, the weather will be clear by 8.

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Charleston, SC Day 2

27 April 2015

We had heard so many nice things about Charleston that we are staying an extra day. We got up and out on the first water taxi to go across the river to the Yorktown. It was a WWII aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum.

While not as big as a modern carrier, for its day it was pretty big and pretty fast, being able to go 30 knots. They were able to launch the figher planes by turning into the wind, that in combination with the boat speed gave enough lift to launch the planes without using a catapult.

Below decks were the same crowded areas that we’ve seen on other WWII class ships. Bunks are stacked 3 high, close quarters in the companion way, tighter spaces in engineering. We did the audio tour and it was neat that after most exhibits there was some story by one of the men from the ship.

They cut some of the bulkheads away in the engineering space so it was easy access. Normally the boilers are sealed up behind extra thick walls so if they blew up they would not sink the boat. On the Yorktown the boilers were also set up so they could feed two engines. That gave them redundancy in case a boiler or an engine failed.

On both the flight deck and hanger bay was a number of planes from the 40′s to 60′s. It was cool walking around and seeing how the wings would fold so they could stack more in the hanger bay. They also have a mock up of the Apollo 8 capsule, it was one of the capsules that the Yorktown recovered during the space program. You can sit inside, hard to think that 3 people spent two weeks inside that space. The two of us were ready to get out after sitting through the 4 minute animation.

Scattered about the ship are a number of displays about other ships and famous people from WWI. Most of the ship displays had very detailed models. There is lots of great history there. We spent two hours walking around, but didn’t really spend a lot of time with the exhibits. Also on site is a submarine and a destroyer that you can tour. They aslo have a mock Vietnam War base set up to show what that was like.

After taking a quick look down into the sub (yep, super small places) we caught the water taxi. It took us to the other marina (lots of nice boats) and then into town putting us off at the city docks. From there we walked through the French Quarter and then to the Southend Brewery and Smoke House.

Southend is in a huge 3 story building with the brewing tanks in the center of the building on the ground floor and fermentation tanks up on the second floor. We had a flight of beer and shared an order of fried green tomatoes. The beer was good, and the pimento cheese with the fried tomatoes was a nice combination. The tomatoes came with a corn chutney that was also an interesting spin on the dish. One of our favorites so far. (Yes, fried green tomatoes have become our “conch fritters” as we travel through South Carolina.

We headed up the street and passed a place that said they had the best fried green tomatoes. So we went into Blossom and tried. They were good, but the bacon jam from the Bierhouse was better and the pimento cheese was better at the Smokehouse. Sorry Blossom.

Just past the Central Market was T-Bonz, they feature the beers of the Southern Brewing Company. We tried a flight and becase we were done with fried green tomatoes we went for the fried shrimp. They were both very, very good.
We walked to the Central Market and walked the length of the market to find bargins. None really to be found, but I did pick up a card game called “Gormet Smarts”. Think of them as food flashcards. It looks like it would be fun to play.

We did look at the sawgrass baskets but they were all really expensive at over $100 for a very small one. So we passed on them and headed back to the boat.

We had invited the people that run the AGLCA over. Steve came for a visit. He was very interesting to talk to, we got how the AGLCA got started and how the Kromer’s took it over. We also got a ton of tips of places to go on our trip north.

Plus he recommended PearlZ, so we called for a taxi and walked to the street to wait. While we were there about 2 dozen cars unloaded highschool kids dressed in their best. They were there to go on the river tour for the evening.

PearlZ is an oyster bar that has been around almost forever. When we got there it was packed, a 20 minute wait. So we walked around the block and admired all the old homes. It’s a very pretty area, lots of nice houses.

We got a pair of seats looking out the window onto the sidewalk. Pretty cool view. Our conversation about this being the first day of our second on the loop caught the attention of the table in front of us. It was the crew of Saylors Delight. We had lunch with them on the Illinois River about 6 months ago. We chatted for awhile until our dinner was delivered.

The oysters were very good as was the rest of the food. It’s a nice place, it was a good recommendation by Steve.

We walked back to the boat and were soon tucked in for the evening. The winds had died down so we were not going to be bouncing around like we had the night before.


Charleston, SC

26 April 2015

One year on the water as of today!

With no shore power we ran the generator for about 30 mins to get coffee and breakfast going this morning. Having the generator has been great. It was good to run it from a maintenance stand point, the last time it ran was over a month ago.

We had a 50 mile run to do today so we pushed off the dock at B & B Seafood a little after 7AM. We had the tide with us for the first 10 miles so that went pretty quickly, but then we crossed over the sound and for the next 3 hours we chugged along a little over 7 knots.

We did see a number of dolphins on the way, but as with the ones recently they are not into interacting with the boat and Susan, it’s more about feeding.

Near Yonges Island we came to the Stevens Towing Shipyard. I was impressed with the number of big boats they had on their wall. They also had two railway system for getting bigger vessels out of the water. They had two of the large fuel barges up on land to work on. It’s been pretty tricky in this part of the ICW, not sure how they manage to easily move them down the river.

Since it was a bright sunny day in Charleston, there were lots of boaters out and about. After the mess in Ft. Lauderdale Susan had said we should hide out in marina’s on the weekend. I’m thing she may be right. But we managed to be nice and not swamp anybody and give the few sailboats clean, slow bell passes.

Docking in the Charleston Marine Center harbor was interesting. Wind off the dock and we were in a corner in front of a huge Krogen (hope they are gone by Tuesday) Got the bow to the dock and the dock hand tied us off and I was able to pivot into the slip. After a year our docking skills have gotten better, but I’m still surprised about some of the places we get into. (And fret getting out of them)

I checked in and walked down to “Seahorse”, love the Looper flags, I’m getting better at spotting them from a distance We had Thanksgiving dinner with them in Apalachicola, part of the huge group of 24. They also crossed over to the West Coast when we did. They were not there, but I left a boat card (another great Looper item).

Early afternoon was taken up by planning our stay, making reservations, etc. Around 4PM the crew from “Seahorse” showed up to visit. We had a good chat catching up on their trip since Thanksgiving (longer on the West Coast of Florida, and across the middle) and where to go and see while we are here.

After that we headed up to the Beirgarden, a craft brew pub. Nice setup outside with games to play (corn hole, giant size Jenga, etc.) They have about 40 brews on tap. One of the cool things is a series of self service taps. You buy a pre-paid card, slide it into the tap and get exactly how much you want. They have a wall of 6 special beers that change every week. There are community tables that have 4 taps in the center and about 10-12 chairs around. The perfect thing for a group of friends. Thirsty? Just help yourself.

We had a pimento cheese stick that had been dipped in panko flakes and deep fried. It came with an awesome bacon jam. Just order the sticks to get the jam. We did two flights of 4 beers and the cheese sticks for $20. Not a bad deal. Oh yes, we cleverly drank all of the credit on the card, so we don’t need to rush back.

A short hike downtown and we were at the Lowcountry Bistro to celebrate our year on the water. We had she-crab soup, shimp and grits and Frogmore stew, (shrimp, sausages, tomato, onion and fingerling potatoes. ) The sausage had the right amount of spice for the dish. There was a fried green tomato layered on the grits to give it even more of a Southern flair.

We walked down Market Street and picked up three kinds of fudge. The old buy two get one free trick when you really only wanted one kind, works every time. Downside of the free deal is they put it into a bag that all of the tour operators know. Holy Bat-signal, now they know I’m a visitor.

On the way back we picked out about a half dozen places to eat on Monday, have to watch the weather, we may get forced to spend an extra day here.

One store had old time candy like Moon Pies, pop rocks and fizzies. I loved fizzies as a child and my children love them too. I got a box to send onto the grand baby, she will love them too!

During dinner we talked about all the great things that we’ve seen and done and ways that we have changed. This has been a great adventure, glad that we are on it. Now on to the Second Year!


GreenPond, SC

25 April 2016

I was waiting to leave until about 9AM, that would have been “slack tide” the time when the tide changes direction. It’s a little easier to get off the dock when the current isn’t moving you around.

But there was rain in the forecast, so we opted to wait the rain out. Glad that we did, it rained pretty hard for about 2 hours. It wouldn’t have been a fun ride. Around 1 PM it started to clear off. I called the next marina, the guy is there until 6PM so we had a pretty decent window to get there. Charleston is about 70 miles away, that would make about an 8 hour ride to do on Sunday, so going 20 today is a good idea.

We got off the dock about 2PM. It was a little windy, but the wind was to ease in the late afternoon.

The ride through the low country was pretty, but there are lots of marshes.

One section is a cut that they dredge on a regular basis. The island next to the cut is set up to collect the silt from the digging. They have installed drain pipes in the base of the pit to return the water back. They do it every two years or so, it got done last year, but there were some winter storms that put a lot of silt back. (Info from one of the local people that I sat on the dock with last night)

As we’ve done the Great Loop we’ve stayed in a variety of marina’s. Really nice ones, average ones, some that need work, some that are brand new. We’ve also stayed at a number of places that are not really a marina. On the Illinois River we stayed one night tied to the work barge of a tow company.

Tonight’s marina is B&B Seafood in Green Pond SC. They have a 200 foot dock that used to be home for their shrimp fleet. But as the shrimp business died off, they now rent space on their dock. There is 1 110v outlet and water. The docks are much older and show lots of wear. Only two shrimp boats are left, so there is about 100 ft of open space.

A little wind and slack tide made it an easy docking. We walked up to the office / shrimp store. Our nights fee was only $25. That is55 cents a foot, same as the work barge, but not as low as Boca Chita, Florida at $2.50 per night.

Disappointing news at the store, all the fresh shrimp were gone. All they had were frozen. I learned later on that the frozen shrimp were theirs, so we could have gotten that. On the other hand we are not set up to keep 5 lbs of frozen shrimp.

Susan decided to go fishing, all the gulls and dolphins knew that fish were down there. She didn’t have any luck, but had a good time trying.

We had purchased a new grill in Tavernier to replace the useless marine one. I spent some time assembling it and we set it up on the dock box to try it out. Gunn and I had built a table that mounts in a bait holder, but I though for the trial run the dock box would be better.

It fired right up. Susan put a packet of small potatoes with fresh herbs to cook. We were both impressed with the grill, on high it got to 600F pretty quickly. On the low setting it was about 300 degrees. It also has a disposable drip pan for quick cleanups. Much better than the other one. And at about 1/3 the price it won’t be a big deal to get a new one every other year.

Second packet of asparagus with sliced mushrooms went on followed by big burgers. A very nice dinner!

After dinner Susan tried fishing again with no bites even though the dolphins were feeding on the other side of the river.

I went up and sat with one of the local residents. He had done some repairs on his son’s boat, they were out for a check out ride. While he waited I got to hear about the shrimping business, down because of overfishing and bigger schools of fish from the south that range up to eat them. 10 years a go 4,000 lbs of shrimp was a good day, now if you get over 1,000 lbs that’s great. But with fuel costs and the dropping wholesale price, it’s hard for the smaller companies to make a go of it.

He also gave me a towelette to keep the “no-see-ums” away. It worked pretty well. He said after using them, he’d stick them up in his hat to keep them away from his head. We’ll need to try to find them.

We watched the lightning draw closer, the storm was to the south, but it looked bigger that the morning storm that we waited out in Beaufort. So I headed back to the boat and closed us up for the night.

About 1AM we heard the kids return in the boat. They were laughing, so I guess it was a successful trip. It also made sense from their earlier efforts to make sure the radar was working. Lots of day markers out there, radar helps you miss hitting them.


Beaufort, SC

23-24 April 2015

We needed to wait for the marina to open this morning so they could run the lock for us. When we went out the lock it was approaching low tide, so it was a drop of about 8′ for us. The lock is slightly wider than our boat and about 60 feet long so we sat quietly in the middle and did the slow drop. This was a surprise set of locks, our next ones will be in Virginia in a few weeks.

A pretty plain trip of about 20 miles. There is a long stretch of “no wake” from the end of Parris Island (where the Marine Corps Base is) through Beaufort. Once under the Beaufort swing bridge we headed up to Lady’s Island to the marina there.

This part of South Carolina is called the “Low Country” there are a large number of islands and marshes. Little rivers and streams wind around. It’s an interesting ecosystem with lots of smaller sea life and birds. Susan’s parents have lived in this area for years and it’s very pretty.

We met up with her Mom and Sister and had lunch in the historic section of Beaufort. The place was a bakery that also made really great soups and sandwiches. After lunch we got a short driving tour of some of the historic homes. Most of the summer residents were plantation owners that came to Beaufort because of the constant summer breezes. There were lots and lots of huge homes nestled back behind huge trees. A popular tourist attraction is to be driven around in horse drawn carriages.

The afternoon was taken up by hair appointments and laundry, the mundane tasks of life even continue while living on a boat. We’ve been lucky the last month we’ve had access to good, cheap and close by machines.

Dinner was with Susan’s Mom at the Johnson’s Creek Tavern. It’s one of those small places at the end of the island. Mostly local residents eat there. It was busy since we arrived at the end of Happy Hour. They make really good oysters. We thought they were local, but they come from Apalachicola!

In my quest for dive bars I walked down the street to the Fill-In Station. It’s your classic dive place with a bar, a pool table, old music videos playing on the TV. Out back is a huge deck that has a great view of the river. They also serve food, Thursday is Pork Chop night. Two large pork chops and two sides for $5. It’s a local favorite. I got there and got offered the last order of chops.

On Saturday we had the pork chops from last night. They were good, but I’m going to guess the coating was much crispier last night.

We get mail about once a month and try to catch up on the important items, that took a good chunk out of the morning. This will be our last mail drop until we get home at the end of May. Then it was off to bank, shop, etc. We’ve been pretty good about the junk food, but there is a Sonic next door and the temptation for Hot Dogs and Limeade was too hard to resist.

We drove out and picked up Susan’s Mom and went to the home of an old family friend. They live out on the water with a great view. They have a Boston Whaler Mischief, one of the 200 made. It’s a cool little boat built for two, but skims along the water.

Dinner was at the Dockside. Susan and her Mom went with the fried clams and oysters (also from Apalachicola) I had the crab cakes and Low Country Hush Puppies. We got to watch a pretty nice sunset.
One of the things I like about small marina’s is they make people feel like family. This week a boat showed up and it was Robin’s birthday on Friday. So the marina organized a pot luck dinner supplied some beer and everyone was invited. I went out to the fire pit to talk and meet some of the other boaters. Lots of really nice people. There were still people up at 2AM when I looked out.


Hilton Head, SC

22 April 2015

Slow cruise out of Thunderbolt (the town outside Savanna that we stayed at) around 8:15 in the morning. I was trying to find the status of the shaft delivery and it’s easier to call when we are not moving and I’m trying to drive. The shaft was delivered at 1:30 yesterday, so I know it’s somewhere on Hilton Head, just need to narrow it to a 200 ft circle.

Lots of boats on the water. About 9:20 we said goodbye to Georgia and Hello South Carolina. We noticed right away that the markers are ½ size from the ones we are used to so far. Don’t know why, but they are a pain to figure out since they are so low to the water.

On the way up the river we heard friends on “Sea Horse” on the radio. I called them and we chatted for awhile. We had met them up on the river system and again in West Florida. They are poking their way along north, we’ll see if we can meet up for docktails.

A minor problem getting into the marina. I had picked a place in what looked to be a downtown area of Hilton Head but copied the phone number of Windmill Marina. It was a little confusing when I asked for directions but once I figured out what I had done we were good.

The entrance to the marina is controlled by a lock. So the water in the marina basin stays at a fixed height (about the mid tide height). Pretty cool, so we added another lock to our count.

The marina is in the center of a gated community of mega-homes. The surprising thing was the transient rate was one of the best we’ve had on the trip. On the property is the South Carolina Yacht Club. We had lunch there and it was pretty good. We were a little under dressed, but they put us in the really nice bar area and it was good.

There is a neat fan system. Mounted on the ceiling were a series of palm fans. They were driven by a crank system to move them back and forth. The eight fans were driven by a single motor that did both sides of the corner bar. The waitress said the system was from the early 1900′s.

We got picked up by Susan’s sister to go track down my shaft. On the way she gave us a tour of Hilton Head. It’s a very nice place but everything is spread out. They have a collection of strip malls, but they are all hidden from the road by large shrubs and trees. So it keeps up the Island Retreat Facade pretty well.

With the shaft in the car (love those cutouts in the back seat!) we got back to the marina in time for an afternoon nap.

For dinner we with with Susan’s sister and her friend to a nearby Mexican place. It was authentic food, and very good. We hadn’t had good Mexican food for awhile so it was a real treat. For dessert we had fresh strawberry in a Mexican creama. The sweet cream was a nice companion to the berries.


Savanna, GA

21 April 2015

A very pretty sunrise, Susan got a great time lapse from the top of the boat. I need some more practice backing off the dock with a current, it was a little messy this morning.

The ride north was nice, lots of pretty places to look at. Lot of dolphins today. One big pod of about 10 was feeding in the middle of a no wake zone. Susan yelled and waved at them, but they had other things on their minds.

It’s also interesting boating with the tides down here. We cross a number of sounds so sometimes you are with the tide doing 10+ knots, others you are against the tide going 6 knots.

We arrived in Savanna before lunch so we had the whole afternoon to walk around.

First stop was the Crystal Beer Palace. This is one of the older places in Savanna. We had a great lunch of fried green tomatoes, crab soup and shrimp salad sandwiches. All the goodness of the south and some beer too.

From there we walked 5 blocks to The Distillery. It’s a giant bar with over 30 beers on tap and some great food. We had the deep fried moon pie, it came with great vanilla ice cream with a caramel sauce with whipped cream on the side.

A few blocks later we went to the Savanna Maritime Museum. It’s small but does a good job of describing maritime activities in Savanna from the 1700′s through the civil war. It then covers all the boats named Savanna across the next 200 years. There were lots of ship models, lots of detail work in them. Down in the basement is a pretty good collection of ships in bottles.

Across the street is the bookstore for the Savanna College of Art and Design. We loved it. There are three floors of great stuff from drawing, sculpture, different papers, pen, ink, paints, and so on. Lots of great art books, electronics. Business plan creation, etc down in the basement. Looks like they do a lot more in Art and Design than I would have expected. They have about 40 different majors from different arts, cartooning, theater, textiles, writing, etc. It really makes me want to go back to school.

We walked through the central market areas. For a Tuesday it was really loaded up with tourists. We cruised through and ended up at Moon River. (Moon River was one of most famous songs to come out of Savanna. ) It was a cool brewpub, we had a single flight of beer to cool down from the walking.

There are a ton of small squares in Savanna, all with benches and statues in them. One of the main streets, Bull St, has 5 of these squares, it must make driving around town very interesting. The grounds are well kept and there are huge trees everywhere. I can see why Savanna is a big tourist town.

We forayed into the restaurant district, Savanna has lots of places that are well known, we were looking for something a little more low key. We had gone into E. Shaver. Bookseller to look around. We asked directions to a place Susan had found, they were closed for dinner M-T-W, they offered up a place called Fire. It’s Asian Street food, so it’s easy to eat. We had the best fresh rolls and dumpling that I’ve had in quite awhile.

Afterward, we collected a taxi and got a ride back to the marina. We got on the boat and fought with the crappy Adobe DRM system coupled with Comcastic login mess to try to watch Mad Men. Final result was to pay $2 to Amazon to watch the latest Mad Men.

It’s nice to have good wifi in these marinas, makes it easy to keep in touch with the world.


Richmond Hill, GA

20 April 2015

Yesterday was a down day for both of us. We had been on the go since the first of April and even when we were not traveling, we were touring around, etc. So it was nice to take a day and do nothing. Yesterday’s blog post was one of the shortest I’ve done.

Today was a long day, 7 hours from St Simon Island to Richmond Hill GA. We went 57.6 miles via the Intercoastal Waterway, it would have been faster to go the outside route. Lots of twists and turns on the way.

Wildlife count was way up. We saw two alligators swimming in the water. One was very close to the boat, I thought it was a log and turned so I wouldn’t hit it.

Lots and lots of dolphins, but none wanted to come play. They were all busy feeding. Based on the sea gulls that follow us, I’m guessing that we stir up the bottom (shrimp maybe?) and they are down their munching away.

Today’s dock is Kilkenny Marina, it’s really a fishing camp set up just off the ICW. It’s older floating docks, but they have blistering fast Wi-Fi!

I think it will make it to the blog as the cover shot, the power pole here is very different. Along with the normal 50 and 30 amp twist locks there is also a 50 amp range / dryer and a regular 115 volt 20 amp receptacles. Power for everyone!

Did some minor work on the picture part of the blog, We are struggling with so many pictures and get them all organized has taken time.

Dinner tonight was porkchops, mashed potatoes and fried cabbage with onions in it. One of my favorite meals.

We are watching the tide come in, it runs about 9 feet per cycle, We’ll have some great pictures about that.


A rest day in Georgia

19 April 2015

Rain last night. Rain over night. Rain this morning. So the song It’s a Rainy Night in Georgia is true.

It’s a down day, we are on the dock doing restful things. I’m catching up with Beer, Boating and robot blogs, so I’m all good to go.

Lunch was at the on-site place, oysters were good, the other stuff was not, but we had fun.

Boat naps after loading on 130 gallons of fuel. Slept too late almost missed docktails.

But Docktails was a success, lots of new boaters, always nice to meet new people


St. Simons, GA

18 April 2014

Here we go to St Simon’s Island. I’m now attuned to tides and currents and figuring out where the inlets are to let the water flow in an out. So as much as the rivers were a mess with rains and “pool levels” the ICW has it’s own challenges with the tides.

We drove at a constant 1,800 RPM, which should be 8.1 knots. Today we went from 12.4 knots !!! to 6.6 knots with an average of 7.7. It makes travel times hard, but I’ve been using 7.8 as my estimate rate for the last few days and it has worked out.

Susan’s on the down side with her dolphin friends. The ones in South Florida come and surf and leap along with us. The ones here skim the water, give her the eye and then go back to fishing. She thinks it’s because the water is cloudy they can’t see her waving at them. Lots of pods, but “meh, another boat” attitude.

Got to Jekyll Creek about noon, and the sky opened up. I wanted to run out and spray Simple Green, but thought I’d drown in the process. It was like a car wash for 15 mins and then blue sky, go figure.

Landed at Morning Star Marina, one of the 5 we will stay at on the way home. (It’s a cash bonus thing) They are super nice here. They have cars for loan, a nice bonus!

And we are in a new state, hello Georgia!

We grabbed 5 boats for Looper Docktails. The real surprise was meeting the crew of “FloatBoat Too”. They are 6 time Loopers, they did it without being part of the Looper group. They are very nice people, and we learned a lot. We also met the Loopers on Plane2Sea, this is their second stop on the Loop. We gave them advice “Do what you want to do”, “Don’t live by a schedule” and “All Looper advice is suspect”

Dinner in the downpour was smoked fish and a movie. Love when we have internet!


Amelia Island, FL

17 April 2015

Today is just as cloudy as yesterday, but there is no wind. It was easy to back off the dock and spin around to head north. The tide was against us until we got past the St. Johns river and into the Sister River. Doing steady 1,800 RPM we watched our speed go from 7.4 knots to 9.7 knots. (Our average at 1,800 is about 8.1 knots. So it’s a healthy 1.6 knots when the current gets going.

There were some shallow spots on the way up the Sister River where there was less than 4′ below the keel. With the tide swing of about 6 feet that would be a problem for boats coming through at low tide.

A few boats and some birds was all that was keeping us company on the trip. Just outside of Amelia City Susan saw a crab on the surface swimming as fast as it could. She then looked forward and saw the huge pod of dolphins and birds feeding. I guess it was the all you can eat Crab Buffet.

We docked at the Amelia Island Yacht Harbor. It’s well off the ICW so there isn’t much current, and we are back to floating docks. The dock hands got us tied off and I got a ride to the other side of the marina to the office. In addition to the docks they have a huge dry stack business.

And they are super nice people. We were able to get a ride downtown with Bill the marina manager.

Amelia Island has been on my todo list. My sister has been doing a charity event called Curts Ride for Cancer for the last few years. The starting point on their 620 mile is Amelia Island (last stop is the “Southern Most Point In the US”). It looks great from their pictures. Since we’ve done from Key West to here, I wanted to spend a little time. She gave us good tips on places to go, and we headed off.

First was Cafe Karibo, one of the local brewpubs in town. I had two of their three beers (down from 29 the day before). We had a great lunch there, the place was jammed.

Walking down the main street we hit a number of different places. There is a pirate theme to downtown with three differen pirate places (avast ya dog, turn over your Master Card!). We checked out the Ameila harbor which was pretty well silted in. They are doing their annual dredging project, according to the curator of the Shrimp Museum, they pull between 250-300 dump truck loads out every year. I think Mother Nature is trying to tell them something.

The town is called Fernandina, it’s one of the oldest towns in Florida. It has a rich heritage of early Spanish settlers and a pretty good Shrimping industry today. The town has stayed small the three big industries are tourism, the local government and the pulp mill at the end of the island. It’s a little weird seeing a power plant to the left, harbor center and pulp plant to the right as you look out to the water. We saw tree truck on the way into town, it reminded us of the cardboard plant in Mississippi.

One of the places we stopped in was the Antique Mall, a full square block of everything you ever wanted. Things were from my kids childhood through things my Grandmother had. About ½ we hit “junk overload” and it was downhill from there.

We got a ride back to the dock and there was an Adventure Craft at the end for sale. I tracked down the broker ( next dock over) and chatted with him. Next over was a nice Bayliner 4550 (the older sister to the 4588) and we chatted for awhile. We meet the nicest people on Bayliners!

Dinner tonight was at the on site eatery “The Galley” The recommendation was the smoked fish / cheese dip, it was wonderful. The view is out across the marina, a very nice setting for dinner. We had a great time, Amelia was a great place to visit.

When I was texting my sister, she has decided she and her husband will do Curt’s Ride again. (So I think the Loop is hard, but a 620 mile bike ride in 10 days is just crazy talk). But if you have a few dollars from your trip, they will take the contribution!)


Jacksonville, FL (again!)

16 April 2015

After a rest day in St. Augustine we are ready to roll. Two short days coming up, one to Jacksonville to see Mike one last time before Christmas and then on to Amelia Island.

The trip up was pretty bland. It was a gray cloudy morning, with rain in the forecast. Once we got out of St. Augustine the ICW went back to its rual nature. Along the shore was a huge flock of white pelicans, over 100 of them waiting for better weather to go fishing.

Got to Cove Harbor Marina about lunchtime. While walking up to pay I got some good pictures of another weed munchie / cutter. I had seen one up in Sturgeon Bay cleaning out the marina. This was very similar except rather than scooping them up they got fed into a grinder and spit out the back. I’d assume that the small bits would float and make a bigger mess. I asked and got told that they sink to the bottom and help choke off the other weeds.

The shower diverter knob had broken so I mapped out a few places to try to get a replacement. Spent some time with Crazy Glue to put the old one back together so I could get a screwing size. (M6 1.0 – which is almost 1/4” with a fine thread)

Mike came and picked me up. Home Depot zero – Ace Hardware had a metric wing nut so I can put something on there. They also had brass finials for lampshades that are ¼” with fine threads. So plan B and C in place. West Marine didn’t have any plumbing fixtures and it also looks like they are going out of business since the shelves were missing lots of items.

There is a camping world about 45 mins away, but I opted to use the repaired knob and order a new complete set and have it sent home. We are only about 35 days away, so I’m going to press my luck.

While Susan got set up to do laundry Mike and I played a few rounds of “Dead Man’s Draw”. Once she was able to join us we played “King of Tokyo” We got three games in before it was time to go to dinner.

But first, a brewpub stop! About a mile away was the Green Room Brewery. We were in luck, they were open. Some breweries are only open on the weekends. Asked about how many on tap, they said 16, and I said great, lets do a flight of all of them. The barman put them together and we carried them to the table and set up to try. The patrons in the pub were kind of surprised, evidently this isn’t a common occurrence. So we posed First Mate Pig by the 4 boat shaped flights and they snapped away.

As expected, some of the beers were good, some bad and some were amazingly good. Mike and I have different tastes, he likes more of the lagers and ales, I’m more stouts and porters. We did agree that the bad beers were bad though (really fruity ones). The surprise for both of us was our favorite was a barley wine. It was a little sweeter than most beers and while you could smell a fruit, there wasn’t a fruit flavor. They take 250 gallons of the beer and add 10 gallons of orange blossom honey before the fermenting process.

We then headed over to Engine 15 brewing for yet more beer and some food. Only 13 kinds on tap tonight. And yes, for those keeping track that is 28 different beers, it’s an ugly job but someone has to do it. Remember these are 2-3 oz pours and we don’t finish the ones we don’t like. So all up for the evening it end up being about 3 beers each.

After starting with chips and queso, Susan went with the beef brisket sandwich, Mike went for the steak flatbread, I went for the BBQ Cuban. It was fun tasting these beers and then comparing back to what we had had before.

After dinner it was dark and Mike dropped us off at our Marina. With all the trips through Jacksonville in the last 5 months it was great to spend time with Mike. It will be weird to not see him again until Christmas.


St.Augustine, FL (day 2)

15 April 2015

Day two in St. Augustine. We did some boat chores and then headed up to do a package mailing. There was a pretty good breeze so it was nice walking.

We walked along Treasury Street, named since it was the route from the Spanish Treasury to the waterfront. It’s the narrowest street in the USA, it’s wide enough for two men and a money chest. That keeps someone in a carriage from coming by and taking it from you. (I’m thinking if the horse ran them over you could still steal the money, but not sure how it was done in the 1600′s.)

Aviles Street is the oldest street, but it’s also narrow, we saw one of the Red Trolly carts hung up on the wall. Glad we are on foot, since it looks like driving here is kind of a hazard.

We spent time in the Lightner Musuem. It started off as the Hotel Alcazar, one of Henry Flagler’s uber-fancy hotels. It had an indoor pool, sauna, etc for all the guests. It was converted to the offices for the City of Ft. Lauderdale in 1973, they took over the guest rooms. The ballroom, pool, sauna, etc. Was converted into the Lightner Museum. They filled in the pool to put a restaurant there, so sad.

Lots of artifacts from the age when it was one of Flaglers places. Lots of cut and hand blown glass,great chairs, tables, etc. One of the scientific glass blowers of the day made a steam engine out of glass. It doesn’t move today, but I can just imagine what it was like.

It was neat to see the vast marble benches of the sauna and the picture of people swimming in the indoor pool. If you had money in the late 1800′s it looked like it was a great place to go.

Speaking of money, walking down King and some of the other streets is a shoppers paradise. If you couldn’t afford items from Worth Street in Palm Beach, you can shop here instead. That tennis bracelet you coveted from Tiffany’s for $10K is only $7K here. I was impressed with the number of jewelry and art places.

Lunch was at Gaufres & Good, we had polish food and it was very good.

A few more shops (one was an antique map shop) and a few more museums we were done for the afternoon. Susan came back and napped and I worked on the blog again.

One of the things that I have been unwilling to do is update software on the trip. Lots of stuff I depend on and I really don’t have the time to dork with things that are broken. So I’m behind on versions of WordPress (the blog software), IOS for the iPad, etc. I had a problem with the Gallery Software a few weeks ago and I had upgraded the version. Well it turns out that it managed to break the commenting option. I sort of wondered how my spam went from a few hundred a day to zero, but I wasn’t going to look too hard. Today was dig into the innards of WordPress and figure it out.

I was able to make that happen, so you can now comment away!

Dinner was back at JP Henley’s. New Belgium Brewery was holding a tap night, they had 4 of their beers on tap. So we had three of them and pub grub (an assortment of sausages and cheese along with a Ruben sandwich). It was fun and we picked up some beer swag for Dave.

After dinner we walked down to Harry’s. We had missed out on the Oreo Beignets last night, but not tonight. There were six Oreo cookies dipped in batter and then deep fried. The process makes the cookie soft and melts the filling into creamy goodness. It was well worth coming back for. I also had the key lime pie. It was store bought, but it was pretty good once it warmed up some. (It was served in that just before frozen state. If you want it, order it first so it thaws as you eat your dinner.)

Back on the dock I saw that the crew of the “Boundless” was aboard their boat. It’s a 36′ Seaton, one of 5 built in 2005. I was invited aboard and got the quick tour. Galley and salon are at the same level. Three steps up and you are in the pilot house with great visibility. Three steps down forward you are in a huge main cabin with a master head that runs the width of the boat (It’s under the pilot house, lots of headroom) Tons of cherry wood gives it a very warm look. Flybridge access from either side door up three stairs. The side doors are “dutch doors” so you can have the sea breeze but keep the lower door closed for the waves. Very nice boat, but with only 5 in the world, one isn’t coming my way soon.

At the end of the dock was an American Cruise Line boat. They run from Maine to Florida. They are spending the night here so people can visit the town then they will head north. I expect to see them on our trip as we move up the coast.

Turned our keys in tonight and the dockmaster showed me the new packets they will start handing out. It turns out that there is a cruisers shuttle that runs between all the marine and hardware stores in the morning and the two grocery stores in the afternoon. An all day pass is $5 so it would be worth it. It wouldn’t have helped me, since it was down today for maintenance. But I now get the $20 mooring, water taxi, pump-out, and a $5 shuttle along with hot showers. Staying on the mooring ball wouldn’t be a bad deal.

We had heavy rain this afternoon and expect more tonigh. On the plus side the extra gasket material is working pretty well.


St. Augustine, FL

14 April 2015

Today we go to St. Augustine. At only 15 miles it’s one of our shortest days in awhile. It brings back memories of short 6 and 7 mile trips between islands in the North Channel.

We had a good current flow behind us so the trip was short at 2 hours. High point of the voyage was two adult and a baby dolphin. It was neat to see the big leaps and this tiny body coming after them.

We got into the dock and found that the wireless is really good. That and getting here at 10AM gave me the morning and part of the afternoon to get caught up on blog posts. I’m current except to talk more about the broken shaft from two weeks ago.

Lunch was at the A1A brewery, we both had cheese soup and the Crab BLT. They had five beers on tap and of course I did a flight of them (their IPA was my favorite).

I spent some time with my hosting service and the speed of QVMarine. It’s been running 6-8 seconds for the user facing pages and about 10 for the internal pages. It appears to be more of a “Wordpress is a pig” issue than anything else. I’m going to post on the WP tech support site to see if they have any suggestions.

I made some minor changes with the caching and I got rid of some calls to external fonts that I wasn’t using, so we’ll see how that works out.

While I was doing bloggy things, Susan was out walking around the town. She reported back with a number of places she wanted to go to but were closed on Mon/Tuesday, so we decided to stay one more day and check things out.

We went to JP Henly for beers instead of Docktails. They have about 70 beers on tap and about twice that in bottles/cans. I got 8 samples to try, all of which were pretty good. It was crowded when we got there, but it turns out from 4-6 their $6 pints are only $4, hence the crowd. When we were ready to go at 6:10 PM the place was almost empty.

Dinner was at Harry’s, it’s mostly Cajun style food. We started off with Voodoo shrimp, it was nothing like any other Voodoo Shrimp. The 8 shrimp came in a cast iron pan about 4” across, bubbling in a brown sauce. The sauce was very flavorful, but with spices, not with the pepper burn that I’ve associated with Voodoo Shrimp in the past. The best method to eat was to take the toasted bread slices, dip them in the sauce and perch a shrimp on top. Perfect!

Susan had the Shrimp and Grits, they were sweet grits because they had put sweet corn kernels into the corn meal (the grits part). The sauce had a really great flavor. I had the Jambalaya, it had a ton of shrim, chicken and sausage. I’d ordered a side of Maque Choux (since I’d never had it as that name). Its a mix of corn, peppers and onions in a buttery cream sauce. A great companion to both of our dishes. We were to full to eat the Oreo beignets, and we knew that getting them to go would be a failure. Another time.

While we were eating Cajun food our discussion turned to the crew of Moondance. They had been the leaders of the epic “Mississippi / Ohio and Lock 52” flotilla. It’s interesting how food takes us back to places and people that we’ve met on the trip. A few days ago, “Midas Touch” crossed their wake and mentioned butter tarts and we were instantly transported back to Canada. Ahh butter tarts, how I miss thee.

After dinner we walked a little of the downtown area, it will be nice to hit some of the shops when they are open on Wednesday. Just need to hope the rain holds off.


Marineland, FL

13 April 2015

They are real! We met them in person. After talking to the crew of Chamba on the radio, we got to meet them. We decided to get pumped out since we had missed the bridge opening. While we were there they slid up to the dock. “Hey Quo Vadimus!!” The are very nice people. We said we’d try to meet up a marina up the ICW where we could sit and chat.

Weather the last few days has been rain in the afternoon so we are trying to be at a dock around 1 PM.

The ride up the ICW was nice, it goes from wilderness to houses and back again. Still not sure what’s up with boaters on the ICW. It’s a closed area like a river and we’ve been good about giving people a slow pass. Wish the guy in the Mainship had done that when he went by. He managed to break Susan’s wineglass from Manistique, MI. Sigh. We tried on the radio, but for some reason these idiots don’t have their radio’s on. He went up a few miles and came back. Both of us yelled and waved, he just waved when he went by. Double Sigh.

We were on the lookout for manatees, we had seen them on our last 4 travel days. There were some dolphins on thje way but no manatees.

About noon the sky got dark and there was thunder and lightning on the horizon. I was hoping to get to the marina before we got drenched. But there was a snout, it was a manatee. We slowed and drifted up, our momentum kept us going at his pace. But he decided that he was done with us and with a wave of his tail he was gone.

We got to the dock about 10 minutes before the sky opened up, so that part worked out well.

After naps and dinner we went for a short walk to Marineland. This is one of the earliest dolphin places, they have been around for 75 years. Susan had been there in her 20′s but they have done some updates since then. It was closed and we walked around it to the beach. Next door was a block long raised board walk with a huge parking area. Not sure what it would have been in a prior life.

On our dock was “Kilt Drifter”, Loopers from Washington State, but had purchased a boat in Alabama. We chatted for awhile, they are staying for a day to go to the grocery store.

Tuesday will be a short day, 15 miles to St. Augustine.


Daytona Beach, FL (Day 3)

12 April 2015

Sunday was another nice day, but rain in the forecast. We decided to hit some of the local brewing companies and do some shopping. Hitting the K-Mart we found replacement throw rugs for the boat. Ours have taken a beating with us walking on them for the last year.

Lunch was at Tomoka Brewery a few miles away. They have local beers and are known for their great pizza. We arrived just in time a party with about 2 dozen people had just left and we were able to get a table in the corner. We got a flight of six different beers to try out. Most of them were pretty good and it was fun trying new beers out. Susan’s not much of a beer drinker, when we have beer it’s up to me to pick something she will like. These little tastings make it easier for me to pick from a range of styles and types.

The pizza was great, it was thin and crispy the way I like it. Susan was pleased that they had fresh mushrooms so it was a good meal experience. We’ve settled in on Sausage, mushroom, green pepper and onion (sometimes with pepperoni) as our go to pizza. They had used tiny peppers so we had quarter sized slices of pepper, good visual appeal on their part.

Our next move was divide up our efforts. I would go to Ormond Brewing Company and she would go to Publix. Ormond Brewing is in the back of an industrial park, when I would expect a brewery to be. I had low expectations on the tasting area, but was surprised to find a 10 seat bar inside and a huge area out back with tables and games (Giant Jenga anyone?).

The barman was nice, he set me up with their 12 beers that were on tap. I’ve gotten smarter on these tastings I’ve been taking my iPad with me to take notes on. So it’s easier to keep up with what I’ve had and how I liked it. They have a wide range of styles so it was fun tasting them and scoring them. The barman and I had good conversation about the beers.

One of their beers, Bootlegger, only comes in bottles and I was going to pass. But the barman decided to share one with the bar. It’s one of the new style of beers that brewmasters are aging in kegs that have had a pre-life, in this case Jack Daniels. It’s pretty good, with a hit of Jack vs the other ones I’ve tried that tasted like they dumped a bottle into the barrel.

Dinner was at Leahanns. It is a huge menu of items, if it comes from Asia you can order it. I got my favorite of shrimp black bean and cashews. Very good, if we come back to Daytona we will come back here.

We stopped by Mara Beel for a night cap and to say Goodbye. Mark and I shared some of his Tempelton’s Rye. It’s very good, it’s history is that it was Al Capone’s favorite during prohibition. We are heading off in the morning, the will be in Daytona for the rest of the week. They will catch up to us about South Carolina since they do longer days.


Table Top Game Day

11 April 2015

Susan was super motivated to do laundry on Friday when we got here. At $1.50 to wash and the same price to dry it’s some of the lowest rates we’ve seen for machines. I dumped a load in Saturday to be ahead of the curve.

One thing about this trip is the clothing requirements for me has been shorts or long pants and t-shirts. I brought 14 (two weeks) and have purchased another 14 so I could go for about a month. Looking back I should have brought pants / shorts and three shirts and bought as I went along.

While laundry suds away, I filled water tanks and did a quick spray down of the boat. On yesterday’s run with the Captain of Haley’s Comet I had gotten some great metal polish that I used to get the rust marks off the anchor. Today I did the brightwork (aka those silver railings) on the forward part of the boat. I can do the bimini top and the upper helm station the next time we travel.

We did a quick run to the bank. While electronic paying is all well and good, we had run out of small bills to use as dock hand tips. We tip for good service and in lots of cases the action of the tip has lead to some secret local info that has saved us more than the tip or dinner at a place that only the locals have information about. I’ve had discussions about tipping with other Loopers, some are against it (it’s their job to help you dock) to ones that have had our experience that tipping often gets repaid back in other ways.

Today (11 April) is International Table Top Game day. Back when I was younger, family game night was something that we did for entertainment. It was a table game or cards that was played. Life, Sorry, Chutes and Ladders, Clue, etc. With the advent of electronic games that’s gone away. Mike and I’ve played multi-player games on the computer, but that’s because we had a LAN in the house.

(Insert story about a family that plays Monopoly on their tablets connected to the same game. Like sitting around the table, but not really).

Three years ago, Wil Wheaton (Star Trek, Big Bang Theory) and a group of friends started International Table Top Game Day to get people to play games face to face with real people. It’s really exploded in size and there were 1000′s of locations that held events. One was in Jacksonville, near Mike’s house. Since we had rented a car (Yay Enterprise three day weekend rental for $20 a day including taxes) it was easy to do.

I got to Games and Stuff to find the place was packed. They had cake, cookies and a slew of games to try out. Mike had gotten us table space and we played Takenoko a board game that has you building bamboo gardens for the Imperial Chinese Emperors Panda Bears. We had played this game before at Christmas and again when Mike came down to Tavernier. It’s pretty simple and the game lasts about 20-25 minutes so it goes quickly. I did pretty well (loosing to Mike by just a few points is doing very well).

The people next to us asked if we wanted to play “Castle Panic”. We said sure and moved over. The game is a “tower defense game” in which monsters (orc, trolls, etc) come out of the forest to attack your castle. It’s interesting since the players are playing against the game, not against each other. So it helps to cooperate with the other players. On the other hand the winner is the person that kills the most monsters, so there is sometimes a little bit of “not doing that for the team” that goes on. It was fun and we played two rounds.

During the game there was a pair of raffles run by the store and I won a card game. We were in the process of setting it up when we got asked to play “Sails of Glory”. It’s a battle game between the French and the English. Each person has a sailing ship to Captain. I manned the Terpischore and we sailed into battle. It’s like playing “little green army men”, except you are on a boat with more detailed rules (and a lack of giant dirt clods being thrown by your brother).

It was fun to play. Because there were boat models we were moving around on “the ocean” (blue cloth from JoAnn’s) between two islands (local hobby model train store mountains) the guy that was running the game also had white cotton to use as smoke to signify when we had fired our cannons. Mike and I quickly sank the smaller of the two French vessels. In an astounding move 20 mins later Mike grounded his vessel stopping it, causing the second French vessel that was turning next to him to become stern placed to Mike’s ship, and it was raking shot time! Since I was still floating it was determined that I could pull Mike off from being grounded, and we won the game.

Having defeated the French we went back to “Dead Man’s Draw” card game. We figured out the rules and played two rounds. It goes very quickly and is a good two person game so it will be fun to play with Susan on the boat.

We had dinner and I headed back to the Quo Vadimus. Susan reported that it had rained most of the day, and it was pouring when I got back to the dock. Weather for the upcoming week is rain every afternoon, so we will plan on doing early morning sails and be in port by 2 PM.


Daytona Beach, FL

10 April 2015

Another dead calm morning, so we are on a roll, every day this week we’ve gotten off to a nice start and a good sail day. We are both looking forward to time in Daytona Beach, we will have been on the move for 7 days in a row. A new record for us, our prior record was the mad dash down the West Coast of Florida in 6 days.

About 8 AM were were in Duck Roost Cove. It’s very pretty, wilderness in a 340 degree view and then the Worlds Largest Freestanding Building, NASA’s Vertical Assembly Building. There is a launch in a few days, this would be a great place to stay and watch it from.

A little farther on there is a cut in the island. For the next 3 miles we saw over a dozen manatees in the water. It was very cool to see them floating in the water.

Around 10:30 there is a long slow speed zone. We saw about six sets of dolphins, they all appeared to be feeding. We were tipped off by the smaller fish jumping into the air and then seeing the dolphin fin break the surface.

We also had our daily radio chat with Chamba, they were going to go to Daytona Beach to an anchorage south of the city.

At New Smyrna Fl the ICW goes to the left through a channel, the river runs along the barrier island. Rather than do the canal we took the river side. We were rewarded with white sand beaches and some really nice areas. It is about the same difference and only about 5 miles of the alternate channel.

We picked up a pretty good current in Port Orange. Normally at 1,800 RPM our cruising speed is 8.1 knots. With the current we ripped along at 9.8 knots. Nice on the fuel mileage and makes the trip go faster. We ended up docking about 10 mins earlier than planned. Total miles today was 41.4, the biggest one day jump since leaving Miami a week ago. We’ve covered 243 miles in the last week, so we are making good progress!

On the dock I met the Captain of Haley’s Comet, he owns a boat similar to mine and is on the Bayliner Owners Forum. He was about to run out and get parts and offered to take me with him. We went to the local discount marine place and I was very good, I only spent about $30. I got LED lights that later on turned out to be pretty useless, but they were cheap.

Another round of Doctails, tonight was on the “Mara Beel”. More good discussion, but one of the Admrials was pretty adamant when the Captains started talking shop about motors or oil or … to shunt the conversation in a different direction.

Porkchops and pierogi were on the menu for the night. Looking forward to some down time.


Titusville, FL

9 April 2015

Another pretty dawn with no wind so it was easy to get off the dock and heading north again. We did another try at going up on plane to clear the front bilge out. Same result as yesterday, wet carpet, my turn to clean it up. On Friday we will try again, going a lot slower.

About 8 AM we heard “Greeks Folly” and “Sweetwater” on the radio, we had crossed with them from Apalachicola to Dunedin back in November. It was nice to catch up with them. And it’s a good sign that we are back with the Loopers.

A few moments later we noticed a huge disturbance in the water ahead of us. Slowing we came up on a number of rays, they were flipping around in the water. Susan did some research, the were either feeding or mating. It’s the right time of year and the frenzy of activity matches up with what she found. We’ll find out later if the pictures came out.

Mid morning we came up behind “Joint Adventure”, they are a Gold Looper. We chatted for a few moments on the radio and agreed to catch up in Titusville.

Of course we came up to “Chamba” that we’ve been playing tortise and hare with all week. They are doing fine, they were going to bypass Titusville and would look for us on Friday.

We started hearing “Thanks for the wake Sapphire”, “Hey Sapphire slow down”, “You idiot Sapphire!”. We looked and there was a 35 Hinkley headed our way. And of course due to the channel he came about 20′ away and waked both us and the sail boat we were trying to give a slow pass to. Some minor damage of things getting dumped on the floor. I radioed the Coast Guard, they seemed highly disinterested. We then listened for the next 30 minutes as Sapphire continued to wake boats as they traveled north.

We docked and were met by the crews of “Marabeel” and “Serenity”. Yay!! We had seen “Serenity” at Tavernier, but it had been December since we had been with “Marabeel”. They along with the crew of Charis were off to the beach, but they would meet us for docktails.

After lunch I headed to the Titusville US Walk of Fame Museum. There are a number of monuments along the waterfront and then a museum with some great artifacts. While most museums are about the astronauts, this one is about the thousands of workers that made the space program possible. They have a huge collection of patches and buttons from all the missions, consoles from the control centers, tools, bolts that were used to keep the rockets upright, etc. Lots of pictures of mission control teams, people working on rockets, etc.

The docents all had stories of who they had met, things that they had worked on, etc. One told the story of how they got stuck on a bus in traffic for a launch. On the other side of the road was Glenn Campbell and his tour bus. Since there was nobody coming out of the launch area they had a clears shot. Their bus driver knew the other drivers and it was the same company. So he lurched across the media and joined the group of buses. They got to the launch site, got to meet Glenn Campbell, and just as they did they scrubbed the launch. So they had an easy trip back out since they were first in line.

Next stop was Playalinda Brewing Company. They have 15 beers that they make and 5 more guest taps, along with a Ginger Soda they make. So of course I had a flight of all the beers they make. The owner, Ron, sat with me and talked about each beer as I sampled. Very cool. He said that it’s a struggle to keep all of the beers on tap, he’s making 3-4 different beers each week. It was nice to get a guided tour of all the beers. One of the things he’s doing is Can Growlers. They only cost him $1, so they are disposable and a easy way for people on the fence to buy his beer. Downside is they only hold 20 oz, so they don’t last as long.

Then it was time for Docktails!!! We hadn’t been to Docktails with Loopers since we left Tavernier. “Mara Beel”, “Serenity”, “Charis” and “Prime Adventure” had a great time. Really missed the crew of “Mara Beel”, they are great people and I just love talking to Mark.

Some of the talk was about the benefits of joining the MTOA. They set up lots of cruises, they are very active in the Chesapeake Bay. The other is access to discounted insurance policies. The members save more on that than the cost of the dues.

Dinner was grilled chicken with the zucchini noodles that I love so much.

A pretty great day!



8 April 2015

Another dawn departure, we have a short day today but we’ve been doing better traveling in the morning when it’s cooler.

I put the boat up on plane to help drain the forward area into the mid-bilge. I did it too fast and was rewarded with water in the hallway that Susan sopped up. Sigh.

We are starting to see the same sets of boats during the day. We passed Chumba, a sail boat for the third time this week. While it takes us about 4.5 hours to go the 30 miles, it’s an all day sail for them.

We docked at Melbourne about 11AM, only 27 miles today. We did more white vinegar in the bilges. We played some with Susan’s camera to see how it shoots video. It does pretty well, but if we decide to shoot some real ones we’ll need a tripod.

I changed out the starboard fuel filter. I’m getting much better distance out of them last run was about 150 gallons, well up from the under 75 I have been getting. We are getting bounced more by wakes here, so I’m thinking that the bottom is getting stirred up. The last fuel load was Valtec, it’s got a cleaner in it that will help with the particles.

We caught a taxi to a brew pub and we found that taxi services in Melbourne are about what they are in NYC. Our 4 mile taxi ride was $17. Yikes!

The Intracoastal Brewery was great! They have 10 different beers on tap that they make and guest taps from other Florida breweries. We got the flight of 11 to try. There were lots of very good ones, it was hard to pick our favorites out.

Like the Soo Brewing Company (Sault Ste Marie) they have a huge stack of table games. We played “Cards Against Humanity” a game that matches well with our snarky senses of humor.

We ordered food from the local “Philly Place”. We got cheese steaks that tasted like home. We also got “pig wings” Susan texted Dave and he said they were rib ends. They scrape the meat up some and then deep fry them. They have the chance to become our new snack food.

The karma of the day was tarnished a little by the 40 min wait for the Yellow Cab (really, do you have only one cab working at dinner time? And the $20 ride home. It would have been cheaper to take the Quo Vadimus at those rates.

Boat smelled better tonight, so we are getting in front of this problem!


Vero Beach, FL

7 April 2015

A pretty sunrise this morning as we pushed out of Loggerhead Marina in Stuart. It’s 5 miles back to the ICW and we are the only people on the water. At 8 AM we go under the East Stuart Bridge, the water is pretty flat and it looks like another good day underway.

Susan has been missing her dolphin friends since we left the keys. In the Indian River a pair came over to the boat to visit. While the ones in the keys didn’t jump as much, this pair was excited to see Susan as she was to see them. Big splashy fully out of the water leaps, very, very cool to watch.

About 15 mins later we passed a turtle, it looked like a Loggerhead, but it was only on the surface before diving down.

The ICW along here is a mix of houses and wilderness. The houses are nice, but not the mega-homes from farther south. We are seeing lots more seabirds around us which is a good sign.

We land at Loggerhead Vero at noon and spend the next 30 minutes dumping 151 gallons of fuel into our tanks. At $2.90 it’s the cheapest so far on the trip and has helped drop our average cost of fuel to $4 a gallon. That makes me really happy, we are well under my $6 gallon budget. But we are over in dock fees between the extra two weeks in Tavernier and the two weeks in Miami while getting repaired.

While at the fuel dock Susan found a chameleon on one of the safety stanchions. He was bright green and didn’t look happy. She scooped him up and put him in the grass. We are thinking he came on the boat in Palm Beach since we were close to shore. Other slips have been well away from the water.

Once we were in our slip we again attached the weird smell problem. Susan sprayed white vinegar all over the chain in the locker and then rinsed it with water. We put vinegar in the forward bilge and into the catch pan for the air conditioner. Hopefully this will start killing whatever is growing down there.

There were Gold Loopers in the marina, but they were not aboard, maybe another time. There was also a boat called “When Pigs Fly” but we were not able to get a good picture with First Mate Pig. We borrowed bikes to go to the store and to the new pizza place. [Let me say that the “ease of borrowed bikes” was soon outweighed by them not being multi-speed and having fat cruiser tires that wobble. ]

On the way I was almost killed. We were coming up the street where the cross street had a stop sign. An older couple came through the intersection at speed, passing about 10′ in front of me. Had I done an extra two pedal pushes I’d been road kill. I was watching and thinking “umm too fast”, but not enough to really do anything.

The pizza place was mobbed. We ordered wine,beer, salad and pizza. She came back a few mins later and said it would be 30-40 mins for pizza. We said OK we can wait. We ordered garlic knots (ummm butter!) with their red gravy. Very good. But time ticked on. More drinks and the salad came. Right at the 35 min mark our pizza arrived. Waitress said that the drinks, salad and knots were free. They had only been open 8 days and they were still on the learning curve.

The pizza was very good, the sauce was good and the dough was tasty and well baked. (I expected that if they were rushing they would give us a ½ baked pizza. Our bill was $16 and I left the waitress a $15 tip.

Did a minor grocery shop and Susan found Cheerwine! Yay! With water and Cheerwine I was again lamenting my decision on borrowed bikes. But we made it back safely.

The boat didn’t smell as much this evening, so we may be on to something. We’ll keep the AC running hand the ports open to help air things out.


Stuart, FL

6 April 2015

We are back to leaving at 7AM, with sunrise at 7:15 or so, there is enough daylight to go. We can do our 30-35 miles and be at the next dock around lunch time. We motored out of Palm Beach past all of our new mega yacht friends and made the 7:15 AM bridge opening. We were on our way for another day.

There is a harbor north of West Palm Beach. The winds were from the east and we saw a container ship backing in dragging their anchor. I’ve heard of doing that to keep the speed down and help control the bow, but it was the first time I had seen it in action.

Lots of houses along the water again, but most of the boats were up on lifts to keep them out of the salt water. There were not any other bridges that we needed to wait for, but there were some tricky spots where there were sailboats stacked up waiting to get through.

Pretty soon the homes dwindle away and both sides are covered with mangroves. It gives more of a feeling of being on a river vs being on a big canal. Lots of wildlife, a number of trees with osprey nests in the tops of them (unless the bald eagles here are pretty small)

Only saw one looper today. They are from TN and they had come down from Stuart. They were going south a little farther then heading east for the 60 mile run to the islands. They have a pretty good weather window. They will stay for a month and then head north to the Chesapeake. They won’t do the Northern part of the loop until next year.

About 11AM we turned into the St. Lucie river and motored the 6 miles to Stuart. We are at Loggerhead Marina, on the north side of Stuart. A nice marina, full services, laundry, etc. The dock hands (Jim and Tim) were pretty helpful.

Lunch was at Wahoo’s, their happy hour starts at 11AM! So we had ½ priced drinks, a pound of mussels for $7 and crabcake sliders. Very nice place, good view of the water and a nice breeze. The kind of place you could stay all day.

But there were errands to do and laundry to take care of. So we spent our afternoon doing those and then it was back to the boat to figure out what the “smell” was.

When we had gotten back on the boat on Saturday there was a strange “plastic like” smell. We thought it was from the protective plastic mats they had put down when they had worked on the boat. But Sunday when we had run the AC it was strong. I thought it may be a problem with the AC. We opened up both sides and ran the AC, but there wasn’t any smell coming from the AC’s. We ran the AC a few mins and when we went down below, the smell was back. Turned the power to the AC off and I kept searching around for what it could be. No idea, but it was dinner time, back to Wahoo’s

We were low key, getting a trio of tacos, beef, chicken and pork. Another nice time on their deck, this time watching the sunset paint the sky with colors.

We have great internet here, so we streamed “Mad Men”. It’s the last season and the last 8 shows start this week, we are both huge fans.

Susan had heard from our friends on “Marabeel”, they are about 35 miles ahead of us. We should catch up to them in Daytona Beach at the MTOA spring meeting. It will be fun meeting up with them, we last saw them in Dunedin FL.


Palm Beach, FL

5 April 2015

Happy Easter, we are on the move again and are docked in the City of Palm Beach Marina. At $2,90 a foot with electric, water and dock pump-outs included it’s not cheap, but better than others (still looking at you, DuSable in Chicago) We have a great view of both Palm Beach and West Palm Beach across the ICW.

Morning started well., off the dock at 7:30 and our first wait for a bridge at 8. Met up with the crew of the Incognito a We need 19′, and I prefer to go under at 20′ (wave rock). They need at least 25′. We followed them up the ICW about 37 miles. They were going at strange speeds, but once I started plugging the speeds into the chart plotter, I would see that they would arrive at the next bridge 5 mins before it opened. This gave them and I a chance to check with the bridge master, scoot under the bridge and then off to the next.

Entire 38 mile trip took 6 and change hours, lots and lots of no wake zones on the way. Incognito knew where the open spots were and we did appropriate speeds. So it was a nice ride.

Not much water traffic so that made it easier. A few bridges are short at 9-12 feet so lots of traffic waiting, but there wasn’t any crash and bash, it was all good.

Lots and lots of mega homes along the ICW Huge 8 bedroom, multistory, multi-garage, pool, places to put boats, etc. Ugly colors on some, ugly statues on others. And sometimes both, do you really need a gold dolphin in your fountain?

The houses went from COOL to ok, to Meh, to us snarking out on the ugly ones and looking at the 1960′s ones that haven’t been flipped to mega-home to decide what the asking price would be.

We found the bridge tenders were all nice and talked to us and wished us Happy Easter. They were all pleasant, so we knew they were not from Ohio and Illinois lock systems.

We got past the last bridge just before 2 PM and moved across the ICW to the East Side and slid into the Palm Beach City Dock. We fit nicely in a 50′ slip, which is good since they charge by the dock length, $2.89 / foot, free electric and free pump out on the dock. Livin’ the dream in Palm Beach.

We pumped out, refilled the water tanks, and sprayed down the boat to get the crud off.

Susan made chicken cutlets with peas and mashed potatoes. Yum.

Then it was time to walk the most amazing mile in Floria, Worth Ave on Palm Beach. In our case it was only three blocks away.

Aahhhoooo the stores. You name a high level fashion designer, they have a storefront here. Did well on Wall Steet, have a 6 figure bonus to spend, this is your street! Sadly, or maybe lucky for me, it was Sunday PM, all the stores were closed. But we stared in the windows of all the great places, even the realtors. You to can live in a 1 bedroom place downtown for only $35K per month.

Stopped at a few restaurants to look at menu’s. Much higher that what we pay at Outback. Since it was Easter, men needed a coat, and I left mine on the boat so we needed to pass on them.

Walked through the residential area on Brazilian Drive. Very nice homes, the landscaping was amazing. Hedges perfectly trimmed, trees that had orchids planted in them. A few houses had 12′ hedges along the front and they had cut openings in to let the cars in and out. Nice way to get some street side seclusion.

We will be off at dawn to go to Stuart, FL Iabout 40 miles away) trying to get out of Florida by the end of the month.

Starting to notice that some of our friends we met on the Loop are getting their gold banners for completing. This week it was “Pier Pressure” and “Estrellita”. Congrats!

BTW posts will be a little out of whack, there are 9 back posts that will appear the week of the 6th to fill in the gaps of the trip.


Ft Lauderdale (by water)

4 April 2015

With a little luck we will be heading north again today! We pack up our hotel stuff (this was really a good place to stay) and Pam picks us up at 8. BONUS! She made Aunt Hazel’s chocolate chip cookies for us last night! A real treat!

We make it down to the boat yard. Unload and re-prime the air conditioner. Ozzy, our mechanic soon arrived and did the final shaft check and bolted us up. It’s 10:15, we are ready to roll or float or something. Time to head NORTH!

We wend our way out of the Miami River, we only needed a few openings to get us out into the harbor. A quick run at 2500 RPM (almost WOT) and no vibration and no leaks from the shaft. All systems go.

Our trip north was nice. We hit the bridges we needed to have open at the right times. Since we had gotten out early I canceled with Pelican Harbor Marina reservation and we pushed on to Ft Lauderdale. Lots of pretty houses. There was one place that there was a sandbar off to the right of the channel. There must have been over 100 boats rafted up, it’s the largest collection of party boats we’ve seen since we were at Oreliea Canada.

Well until 1PM when I started into Ft. Lauderdale. We started seeing more and more and more boats. Big boats, small boats. We started into the Port of Ft. Lauderdale and it was a circus. Susan and I thought traffic was bad, we were impressed with the boat traffic. The 4 miles of the Port were done at no wake speed. When we got to the channel that leads to the ocean we could see the cruise liners on the left. This is the place where we left on our two week cruise from, we remember the water circus from the balcony of our room.

Up ahead was a 200 tanker and two tugs going out to sea. We navigated around, ducked past a tug, and fell into line behind a 80′ pleasure craft to go under the bridge. And of course since this is South Florida, no concept of two lanes, we were 6 abreast at one point.

At 2:15 we are outside our marina, the “Swimming Hall of Fame Marina”. Called and after about a dozen rings it’s answered. Gave my name, no reservation. Ok, that’s not making me happy. Much discussion, not on the white board, computer is crashed, can’t check there. Since he can’t check, we can’t check in. Not a good sign.

So Susan starts the hunt for a new marina while I keep us off the channel trying to stay out of traffic. Wow there are a lot of people out there! About 3PM Susan calls Sunrise Harbor Marina and spoke to Mike. They have slips, they are $4.25 / foot a night. I had called Mike and talked to him the week before, he had directed us at “Hall of Fame”. He told Susan the same thing, and she told him the tale of them not being able to find the reservation. He said hang on, he would call us back in 15 mins. He must of called over since I got a call from Derek the marina hand. He would put us in a slip for now, bt we could need to move later. No problem, we turned in and at 3:15 we are docked and tied up.

True to his word Mike called us back. Susan explained that we may get kicked out. Mike said no problem, if they do come to his marina. We would see two 150′s on the front dock, go around them and dock in the inside. Mike said that people have tenders the size of our boat, it wouldn’t be a problem. Yay Mike.

Even better both Ozzy our mechanic and Walter from the yard called to see how the trip went. Great customer service, would use both Ozzy’s Marine and the RMK-Merril Stevens yard in Miami again.

When I went up to the marina office to pay, I found that this was Dereks third day on the job and his first day alone. There had been two other boats that were to come in, but with the broken computer he had also turned them away. Ugg, I felt sorry for them, Mike hadn’t been able to rescue them.

Across the parking lot was Coconuts. They don’t take reservations, but if I came over at 5:30 they have a Raw Bar special on Oysters, $1 each and half priced drinks, the wait would be about 30 mins. Called Pam and Gunn and set us up to meet for dinner.

Coconuts was mobbed, while I put our name in, Susan score great seats the raw bar. We got drinks order 6 oysters (from Virginia, makes us want to get home faster) and watch the activity. The stress of the marina and the marine boat circus ebbs away. By the time Pam and Gunn arrive, oysters are gone and we are both back in our happy place.

Dinner was great. We started off with “Scooby Snacks”, crab claws that have been partially cracked. They came with a garlic, onion, pepper, butter mix. No vampires on the Quo Vadimus tonight! Gunn went for the Maine style lobster roll, I went for the Philly style (?!?) , it’s lobster, bacon and cheese. (Not Whiz), Pam had great looking fish tacos and Susan went with the crab cake salad. Another great evening of chatting, it was nice on the deck as the sun set.

When we came back from dinner, I walked our dock, there were 5 slips other than ours open. So it wasn’t a big deal after all.

Thanks to Mike, Ozzy and Walter for making our day work out. And good luck Derek on your new job!